Andi Owen, CEO of furniture company MillerKnoll, took home about $5 million in compensation in 2022, of which about $1.3 million came from a performance-based bonus. In a recent company-wide Zoom call, Owen answered some questions from employees. One worker in particular raised the concern: “How can we stay motivated if we’re not going to get a bonus … What can we do? What can we do?”
Owen’s response was … certainly an interesting strategy for employee motivation:
Don’t ask: What should we do if we don’t get a bonus? Get $26 million [company goal]. Spend your time and energy thinking about the $26 million we need and not thinking about what you’re going to do if you don’t get a bonus. Okay? Can I get any commitment for it? I would appreciate that.
I had an old boss tell me once, ‘You can visit pity city, but you can’t live there.’ So people, leave sin city. Let’s get it done.
In accordance ViceOwen’s company has struggled somewhat in the wake of changes in office investment brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic:
This has led to “a period of disruption,” as MillerKnoll himself recently put it, which led Herman Miller to buy Knoll, one of its top competitors, in 2021 for $1.8 billion and form the newly created MillerKnoll to better withstand the changes caused of the COVID-19 pandemic. Knoll’s then-CEO resigned as a result of the transaction, leaving Owen, then CEO of Herman Miller, in charge of the newly formed furniture giant.
Since then, Owen has sought to cut costs in a number of ways as its stock price plummeted — the company announced earlier this month that it would close a Wisconsin manufacturing facility and lay off 162 employees — and otherwise shifted its focus to “more hybrid, collaborative work environments” and online sales.
The company has since released a statement about the video, saying: “Andi strongly believes in this team and all we can achieve together, and will not be dissuaded by a 90-second clip taken out of context and posted on social media.”